Archive for March, 2016

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT

Jacob’s Secret (A Book For Kids)

Written by Emily McLeod

Jacob'secret,pic

Book of less than thirty pages based on a fable. A small village has a secret, which Old Mathew confides to his grandson, Jacob. Mathew has been entrusted with a magic well in backyard. As long as the water taken from it is used wisely, it will multiply again and again. If bad people take water out and waste it, it will empty and the village will run out of water. Seven year old Jacob promises to keep the secret, but when the water in the village river appears to be drying up, Jacob volunteers the information that he knows the whereabouts of a magic well. Jacob is now caught between a rock and a hard place. Will the town drain the well and make their problem worse or will Jacob find a solution to his dilemma?

The ending is a surprise; it poses more questions than it answers. The illustrations in the story are colorful with very graphic facial expressions. They will assist beginning readers with the text. The size of the font also favors early independent readers. Though the book is targeted for nine to twelve year old readers, the length of the story suggests it to be more suitable for readers in the seven to ten age category.

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EGYPTIAN EXPLORERS

Hieroghyph (TC’S ADVENTURES BOOK 1)

Written by WJ Scott

Illustrated by John Helle-Nielsen

Hieroglyph,pic

I will be honest in saying that this book was different from what I expected. The cover is a bit of a mystery and the table of contents lists numbers only with no word clues. Once into the book, the reader is quickly drawn into the narrative. Thirteen year old TC is sitting in the Vice-Principal’s office trying to explain how she knew where a stolen ring could be found. TC lives with her Aunt Letty in New Zealand since her archaeologist parents were killed in a cave in. Aunt Letty is off on an environmental expedition, and TC will be going off to spend a weekend with her uncle in Australia.

Here is where the book takes a dramatic departure. The reader learns that TC has a special gift. She is able to time travel and connect with past history when she touches hieroglyphs. Her uncle Max is trying to get funding for an archaeological expedition to prove that ancient Egyptians traveled to Australia in search of gold.

I will not reveal details of the plot, but Scott seamlessly takes the reader back and forth as TC alternately explores the shipwreck and explorations of Prince Setka and Prince Kanefer in ancient times and back into the present with TC, her Uncle Max, her friends and enemies who seek to undo their discoveries. Characters are well developed and the narrative carefully written to make the plot believable. TC is a strong-willed female who faces modern problems and crises, while longing to solve the mysteries of the past.

Targeted for readers nine and older, the book will appeal to younger and older audiences. Promises to be a good series for lovers of ancient Egypt, adventure, mystery and intriguing characters.

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TAKEN FOR GRANTED?

Easter is Cancelled

Written and Illustrated by Sally Huss

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Sally Huss never seems to run out of ideas to inspire our youngest readers to think about what is really important. Eastertime is coming up soon, but it seems this year will be very different. While the other animals are already working hard, the star of the show is not! The pigs have been gathering grass, the dogs are mixing chocolate, the chickens are laying eggs, and the cats are dyeing the eggs. To their dismay, they find the Easter Bunny relaxing in a hammock, with a sign nearby that says he is cancelling Easter this year. Why? No one ever thanks him. The wise old owl comes to the rescue by giving the animals his advice. He suggests that the animals find a child to make the Easter Bunny feel more important. What is that message and will the animals succeed in finding the right child to give him that message? Exactly what does the Easter Bunny need to hear to change his mind and rescue Easter for all?

Like most of this series, the book is targeted for children ages two through eight. This one is probably more geared to preschoolers. Bright, happy illustrations and a simple message will warm the hearts of young readers and the parents or teachers who are reading it aloud.

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MARDI GRAS MAYHEM

The Mardi Gras Chase (True Girls Book 1)

Written by Maggie M. Larche

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Fast moving middle grade mystery adventure involving three friends, Melanie, Kate, and Faye. While attending one of the mardi gras parades in Mobile, Alabama, the girls notice that some of the letters on the floats are upside down. They copy the letters R.C.E.N.R.A.P. In addition, the strange letters appear only on the high and “poufy” floats. These friends do some internet research, discovering that Mr. Simmingham is their designer. The girls visit the museum to investigate the floats stored from the parade they had missed and vow to attend the rest of the parades during the week to continue the investigation. But the friends must attend a history presentation on Saturday, so they enlist Matt to collect the information. The plot thickens when Matt is arrested; the girls are relieved to find he had already succeeded in his mission. They are unsuccessful in cracking the code until they receive help from an unlikely source. A visit to the cemetery leads to another hair raising adventure and unexpected rewards.

Targeted for a middle grade audience of eight to twelve year olds, the plot moves along quickly. There is probably a bit too much dialogue, but that is appropriate for this age group. Strong female role models, strong family relationships, a tinge of scariness and mystery, plus the unusual Mobile mardi gras setting, set it apart from the typical middle grade adventure tale. First book in a series that will succeed if the characters continue to grow and evolve.

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SLOW DOWN AND RELAX

Mindfulness for Children: The Natural Way to Cure ADHD, Improve Focus and Schoolwork, and Have a Happy and Healthy Child

Written by Tony Robson

Mindfulness,pic

This title is a mouthful; it seems like a magic formula. The author promises to explain the technique without a lot of extra boring information, and the book is less than thirty pages. He focuses on strategies that can be especially helpful for parents of children and teens who struggle with ADHD.

Robson begins with the definition of mindfulness which is meditation based on accepting and focusing on emotions and thoughts that are occurring in a person’s present moment in time. He lists the benefits of practicing mindfulness: better sleep and health, less stress, improved schoolwork, and keeping emotions in check. Next, he briefly explains how to determine when and where to meditate, how to influence your child and how to do the meditation. Robson suggests making it active, perhaps a superhero walk for a young child or a pretend driving lesson for teens. The parent must keep the child away from distractions, and search for what things worry the child. It is important to learn how to choose battles and when to respond. This will allow a child to better control emotional outbursts. Finally, teach children to be grateful so they remember the good things rather than the bad.

While these suggestions are helpful, parents need to understand that they must be able to meditate and stay in control if this technique is to be successful with their child. Robson refers them to another of his works for more detailed information. Anyone who is serious about learning and using this technique should know that this book is probably not sufficient for mastery of the technique. Certainly recommended to parents and teachers of ADHD children who are interested in finding non medical alternatives for their children

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HAUNTED BY HISTORY

MikeCashRafterCopter
 The History Major: A Novella
Written by Michael Phillip Cash

HistoryMajor,picI received a copy of this book in return for an honest non-biased review.

Hung over college student Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm to an unsettling situation. She vaguely remembers a fight the night before with her boyfriend, Patrick, and partying with her two best girlfriends who don’t like him. But her room is at once familiar and strangely different; her roommate is someone she has never met. Finding her classroom schedule on the bed, Amanda is distressed to see a history class on it; Amanda hates history. She rushes to the Registrar building to drop the class, but the administrators tell her she must take the course. Amanda walks through the campus, which seems oddly different. Buildings appear and disappear, and she has the feeling of being stalked.

Resigned to her fate, Amanda is drawn to the history lecture, where she meets Nick and her professor who is dressed like Aristotle. His lecture is even stranger. He drolls on about Joan of Arc, Pope Alexander VI, Lucretia Borgia and other historical characters, but as he does so Amanda is drawn back into history interacting with and sometimes being attacked by them. Nick tells her, “They all hear what they have to hear.” Amanda’s thoughts drift back and forth between the past and her own reality. She has flashbacks of her grandmother, mother, and abusive stepbrother, Wayne. How can there be a connection? Amanda hears the words, “People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.”

What is real, what is fantasy, and how will Amanda deal with integrating both within her present life?

Elements of a thriller, paranormal, history and a psychological study combine to make this novella a compelling read. The first couple of chapters confused me, and I definitely disliked Amanda. As I got into the plot, I could not stop reading. Lots of interesting dialogue and colorful language engage the reader. Plenty of twists and turns keep the reader on edge; the ending caught me off guard. Recommended for teen and adult audiences as a thought provoking afternoon read.

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PhillipCashBlogTour

PhillipCash About the Book
After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday. She can’t quite put her finger on it. She’s sharing her room with a peculiar stranger. Amanda discovers she’s registered for classes she would never choose with people that are oddly familiar. An ominous shadow is stalking her. Uncomfortable memories are bubbling dangerously close to her fracturing world, propelling her to an inevitable collision between fantasy and reality. Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?

Praise
“Cash intermingles beauty and violence …It’s smartly ambiguous and open
to interpretation, and some may delight in a second (or third) read.” – Kirkus Reviews

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#kidsreadclassics TOUCHING THE STARS

The Little Prince

Written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Translated by Katherine Woods

The Little Prince,pic

I first read this book as a college student in the original French, Le Petit Prince. Widely translated into 250 languages, the book has traveled around the globe like its protagonist. You might ask why this is my favorite’s children’s book as I did not read it as a child. My answer is that I love the wonder in the prince’s eyes and the wisdom that comes from his mouth. I read the book in the original 1943 edition, which unfortunately is no longer widely available. Woods’ translation is smooth and the watercolors beautifully done. Some critics are not as happy with recent editions.

The plot is at once complicated and simple. A pilot who has crash landed in the Sahara desert meets a young prince who has fallen to Earth from an asteroid. The little prince muses about his wanderings throughout the galaxy and his philosophy on the universe. On a deeper level, the novella is an allegory pondering the human condition. Our little prince expresses his dismay about grown-ups. “Grown-ups never seem to understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” Out of the mouths of babes, one might say.

The author first flew an airplane at the age of twelve. Born at the turn of the century in 1900, Antoine actually did crash into the Sahara desert in 1935, while attempting to break an aviation speed record flying from Paris to Saigon. He fled to the United States during World War II, but went back to join the Free French Air Force. He disappeared while flying a mission over the Mediterranean on July 31, 1944. Antoine became a national French hero, highly respected as an aviator and writer.

I would recommend this book to children and their parents. It can be enjoyed on so many age levels, and the embedded layers of meaning enrich young and old minds regardless of age. Fantastic as a read aloud and group discussion. This is one book that cannot be read too many times.

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Antoine,pic

A YEAR ON THE FARM

Toby’s Tails: Still Wagging (Fantasy Farm Tales Book 4)

Written by Susan Keefe

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Toby, the Border Collie, narrates his adventures at Fantasy Farm in France. He lives with two humans and an assortment of farm animals with whom he shares many adventures. Readers learn a lot about Toby as well as real life facts about life on the farm.

The first book tells about Toby’s first year of life and how he was trained to be a proper border collie. In this book, readers are treated to adventures on the farm throughout the seasons from spring, summer, autumn and back to winter. Toby meets Scarlet, a squirrel who introduces us to her drey and new babies. On a car trip, Toby explains what log lorries are, we meet some bees in the meadow pollinating plants, and noisy baby goats who are growing fast. Young readers learn about the differences between a mouse and a vole, the arrival of the swallows and the wrens. At the market, mum buys fresh vegetables and guinea fowl. Of course, there must be a mystery adventure. When Henrietta, a brown hen is missing, Toby is on red alert. Readers learn about rabbits and how they breed in the spring. Toby has quite a strange experience when the family decides to go on a picnic and Mum has an interesting experience with stick insects. Mum is excited when a horse named Marine comes to live on their farm. As the season turns to autumn, the slow worms emerge to do their work. In practically no time at all, frost has returned and winter is just around the corner. How will the animals on the farm adapt and change?

Love this approach to teaching children about animals and life on a real farm in the countryside. The photos are beautiful and charming. This chapter book of a little more than fifty pages could be broken up in sections as a classroom read aloud. There is a lot of information packed within the pages. Perfect choice for an eight to ten year old who loves animals.

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FIGHTING FOR IRISH INDEPENDENCE: WAR AGAINST THE NORSE CLANS

Freedom Within the Heart

Written and directed by Mark Mahon

Pencils and Inks by:

Miguel Caceres

Colors by Veronica Gandini

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This is a graphic novel based on a screenplay. Mahon bases his tale on the ancient history concerning the feuds between the Irish and the Norsemen and begins in 910 A.D. The pagan Vikings pillage the Church and meet with little resistance from the Irish. A short period of peace follows and the action picks up in the home of the Kennedy clan. Two young brothers Malhoun and Brian are listening to the legends of the battles. They are the protagonists who will struggle with the Norsemen in the near future.

There are lots of battle scenes depicting gruesome warfare, greed, cruelty, revenge and family tragedy. The plot is well developed and flows smoothly. The characters and their emotions are aptly portrayed in words and graphics. Drawings and colors are vivid and rich with minute attention to detail.

Lots of violence depicted in the battle scenes and the implied violence meted down to the women and children of the clans. For that reason, I would recommend parents of children under twelve review it for objectionable material. Recommended as an exceptionally well done graphic novel for lovers of that genre who enjoy history.

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SINK OR SWIM

CHILDREN’S BOOK:DIARY OF OSCAR RABBIT: FUNNY, ILLUSTRATED BED-TIME STORY- READ ALOUD……

OscarRabbit,pic

Written and illustrated by Melinda Kinsman

New series of books featuring a young boy named Billy and his collection of stuffed toys who live on the top of the wardrobe in his bedroom and are affectionately referred to as The Top of the Wardrobe Gang. Previous rhyming books in the series have featured their adventures in writing books for kids, which they turned to as a diversion to pass the time of day when their owner Billy went to school. In this new series, members of the gang will allow readers a glimpse into their daily diary entries.

Oscar Rabbit narrates in the first adventure. He is upset that the gang’s writing schedule is going to be disrupted because a new swimming pool in town is about to open. Billy is really excited not only for himself, but especially for his cousin Ben because this new pool is accessible to the disabled. Ben is wheelchair bound.

The Top of the Wardrobe Gang are determined to swim in the pool with their human friends. Oscar knows that stuffed animals will sink, but his friends refuse to be dissuaded. He writes in his diary about how Billy’s grandmother makes them all bathing suits and brings them cookies. Finally, opening day arrives. What will happen to the Gang? They seem determined to ignore the truth.

This book is targeted for readers ages four through eight. Preschoolers will read through the clever illustrations. Beginning readers will enjoy story written in short paragraphs of text with just enough challenge, but not overwhelming for new readers. They will delight in the activities provided at the end: matching, mazes, simple math, and find the differences. An answer key is provided for self-checking. Wonderful value for the story entertainment and enrichment activities to extend learning. Highly recommended for young readers, teachers and parents.

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